Format Hardcover
Publication Date 11/05/24
ISBN 9781639367368
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 336

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The Last Stand of the Raven Clan

A Story of Imperial Ambition, Native Resistance and How the Tlingit-Russian War Shaped a Continent

Mara Vorhees Gerald Easter

A dynamic history of the Battle of Sitka that recognizes the vital importance of the Tlingit people, their fight against Imperial Russia, and how it changed the fate of the North America.

“If the long-term plans of Peter the Great had been realized, then California never would have become a Spanish colony,” asserted the head of the Russian-American Company. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Russia was a rising power in North America. The Tsar’s empire extended across the Bering Sea, through the Aleutians and Kodiak Island, and down the Alaskan panhandle. The objective of this imperialist project was to corner the lucrative North Pacific fur trade and colonize the American coastline all the way to San Francisco Bay. The audacious scheme was moving apace until the Russians were finally confronted and stalled on the battlefield.

When Russia went to war in America, the fate of a continent was at stake. Yet it was neither the Old-World rivals Spain and Britain nor the upstart United States who stopped Russian expansion, but a coalition of defiant Tlingit tribes. The Last Stand of the Raven Clan is the true story of how the indigenous Tlingit people of southeast Alaska thwarted Imperial Russia’s grand plan of conquest in North America. Leading the charge was the young war chief Katlian, a hero as fierce and courageous as Crazy Horse or Geronimo. The Tlingit stance against Russian colonization—during the Battle of Sitka and beyond—was arguably the most successful indigenous resistance against European imperialism in North America.

Tlingit oral histories and Russian eyewitness accounts bring this history to life, shedding light on events both inspiring and infamous: the Massacre at Refuge Rock, one of Native America’s worst atrocities; the Survival March, the perilous Tlingit retreat to avoid Russian capture and enslavement; and the cutthroat competition between the U.S. and Russia to control the northern Pacific. Ultimately, The Last Stand of the Raven Clan chronicles the determined struggle for survival of the Tlingit people in their ancestral homeland and places the Battle of Sitka in its rightful spot as a key turning point in North American history.

Mara Vorhees is a travel writer with an expertise in Russia, New England, and Central America. She has written or contributed to more than 40 guidebook editions, published by Lonely Planet.

Gerald Easter is a Professor at Boston College who has been teaching and writing about Russian/East European politics and history for more than two decades.

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Endorsements & Reviews

Praise for Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees

“What defines a treasure, and who controls its fate? Easter and Vorhees expertly weave the story of the ship and the painting into history. They plumb the two decades of drama to combine important questions about the value of art and culture and the meaning of hertitage and to create an entertaining tale." Booklist
“Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees skillfully weave the shipwreck of the Vrouw Maria and its secret cargo with the lives of Dutch Golden Age painter Gerrit Dou and Russia’s art-loving Catherine the Great. The high stakes search reads like a detective story. A true delight." Susan Jaques, author of The Empress of Art and The Caesar of Paris
"Wide-ranging and meticulously researched. Easter and Vorhees braid the various threads of the story together and make a persuasive case. Readers will covet this intriguing portrait of an art world mystery." Publishers Weekly